Norway's climate goals seen relying on quotas
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will rely on buying greenhouse gas quotas abroad to meet a self-imposed goal of curbing emissions by more than demanded by the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol until 2012, researchers said on Tuesday.
Norway, which says its targets for combating global warming are among the toughest in the world, says it will axe emissions by about nine percent below 1990 levels by 2012 -- tougher than a Kyoto goal of a maximum one percent rise.
But scientists at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo (CICERO) said there will be scant new cuts in Norway where overall emissions are likely to rise in coming years, led by the oil and gas sector.
"Norway's most important measures to reach the goals of the Kyoto Protocol seem likely to be measures already in place, together with purchases of quotas from the European Union and developing countries," said Steffen Kalbekken of CICERO.
Policies already in place include cutting use of heating oil and favoring biofuels. The government has set overall goals for 2012, but has been vague about how they will be achieved.
Kalbekken said that emissions by Norway, the world's number five oil exporter, were set to rise to 58 million metric tons in 2010 from 50 million in 1990 and 53.5 million metric tons in 2006.
Oslo has promised to cut to 45 million metric tons on average during 2008-12 to meet its sharpened Kyoto target. And in the longer term, Norway aims to be "carbon neutral" by 2030 -- by when any emissions will be offset by cuts elsewhere.
To make the short-term 13 million metric tons cut to 45 million from 58 million, CICERO projected that companies in Norway -- from oil to aluminum -- would buy quotas every year on the Norwegian and European Union market of 9.7 million metric tons.
They would buy a further 3 million metric tons via the U.N.'s Clean Development Mechanism, under which companies can get credits for helping developing nations to cut emissions such as by building windmills instead of coal-fired power plants.
New cuts in emissions by companies would total one million metric tons.
The Norwegian state, meanwhile, plans to sell quotas to Norwegian companies totaling 7.7 million metric tons and make money via arbitrage by back cheaper CDM quotas metric tons 6.2 million metric tons, CICERO projected.
Norway would also claim that expanding forests soak up 1.5 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide -- trees absorb carbon as they grow and release it when they rot or are burnt.
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(Editing by James Jukwey)